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Eurogamer Interviews CCP's Hilmar Pétursson • Page 2

Meanwhile, in Iceland...

Eurogamer: Did you ever identify the people who were leaking?

Hilmar Pétursson: That's a very complicated question to answer because there are a lot of legal matters involved - so I would choose not to comment on that.

Eurogamer: Back in June, I wrote about the challenges of resolving these issues while having to assume that any discussions will enter the public domain. How did you manage the situation?

Hilmar Pétursson: A lot of the realigning has happened a few months after, in the middle of summer. I think everyone saw how much the information had been taken out of context, and everyone realised how damaging it can be, trying to fix the company in the public spotlight. Since then we have done a lot of introspective work where we have teams working on various development initiatives, talking about our challenges and what needs to improve.

That frankly has been a very inspirational process to see how people love the company and want to make it stronger by really being frank and open about their mistakes and where they see the company needing to restructure - because the communication is not flowing and teams are not being productive. That was a really inspiring moment where we saw a lot of people really applying themselves and getting to the bottom of everything that had been going on.

Eurogamer: At the time of the Icelandic economic crisis in 2008, CCP issued a statement that Eve was protected and in good financial health. Is the game still profitable as a standalone investment?

Hilmar Pétursson: Absolutely, very much so. The business model of subscriptions in a thriving MMO like Eve is a very robust one so this was never the problem. How we handled Eve as a result of having very ambitious plans as a company is really what the failure was, and we're now addressing that by focusing our attention on Eve. The game itself is a robust entity.

Eurogamer: One of the significant shareholders in CCP was declared bankrupt as a result of the economic crisis. To what extent have external interests affected CCP's current reorganisation?

Hilmar Pétursson: I would say very little. The company is very independent from external forces because Eve allows us to be. It was the leadership of this company that made these plans and embarked upon them - but they were overly ambitious. We were unable to execute all of this at the same time. There really aren't any external factors pushing us any which way.

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The Apocrypha expansion is often cited by players as a high-point in Eve's development history. CCP hopes to replicate this success.

Eurogamer: So you can confirm that the situation with CCP today is only different from that of six months ago because of the recent issues with the Incarna expansion?

Hilmar Pétursson: Absolutely. Incarna was the final point of realisation that we were trying to do too much at the same time. We were creating avatar tech for two games, integrating in a single code branch with teams around the world all contributing. It was a very ambitious thing and we didn't do it well enough. We're taking that in and addressing that. We've learned a lot, and we will certainly do everything we can to avoid those mistakes again.

Eurogamer: Does Eve Online now have more developers overall as a result of this reorganisation? Is the Eve team stronger and larger as a result?

Hilmar Pétursson: I don't think the overall number of developers working on Eve was really the problem. It was the focus and prioritisation of what those people were doing which was the problem. In some dimension, we had too many people working on Eve while we were developing Incarna. It was a large team of people, all over the world, adding to it as a way to execute a big strategic plan of the company - rather than to add value to Eve.

So I would say we have never had as many people adding direct product value to Eve. We're way more focused on that than we've ever been. The really big change here is that we're now more focused on the classical Eve experience that people have come to know and love. That's the go-forward plan.

Eurogamer: So it's a question of working better, rather than working bigger?

Hilmar Pétursson: I would very much say so.

Eurogamer: Regarding Incarna, we were expecting to have the other Captain's Quarters by now, along with the first steps towards station Establishments. Is there still a development roadmap for Incarna?

Hilmar Pétursson: We're releasing the racial variants of the Captain's Quarters this year and that's mainly because we had that work completed. It also includes some optimisations and other fixes. I think the community has spoken loud and clear that they want more classical Eve features to come out, and that's the priority for us. Incarna is there, and we might pick it up at some point later down the line, but the voice of the community is quite clear. People want more spaceships, and more flying in space features. That's very much what we are responding to.

"People want more spaceships, and more flying in space features. That's very much what we are responding to."

Eurogamer: Can we expect to see another expansion of the scope and popularity of Apocrypha?

Hilmar Pétursson: That is very much what we're aiming for: a really focused awesome expansion like that, but right now we're doing the winter expansion, along the lines of our focus on flying-in-space. It's very much my hope that we achieve a fantastic expansion like Apocrypha, which was a great example of what we as a company can achieve if we really focus on a singular mission like that.

Eurogamer: The Council of Stellar Management [CSM] has been increasingly vocal and rebellious in recent months. What's your relationship with them like at the moment - your personal feelings and those of the company as a whole?

Hilmar Pétursson: The CSM has been under constant evolution based on what's going on in the current environment, what's going on with CCP and Eve, who's on the Council and all that. The CSM has helped greatly through the years in getting feedback for aspects of the game.

But some of my concerns right now relate to whether the CSM is maybe focused on a particular aspect of the game and I'm starting to get feedback from players that they worry the CSM is too pre-occupied by a certain playstyle. That might mean we may need to change the structure, but definitely the CSM has worked as a feedback tool greatly throughout the years. We will have them over at the end of the year, after everything that's gone on, and we will have a chance to talk about that. We'll just see where we are and take it from there.

Eurogamer: What's the message you want to get out, both to lapsed players and to the current players as a result of this reorganisation?

Hilmar Pétursson: Well, the message is that we have heard you and we are now taking action to be more aligned with the needs of Eve Online. As a company, we've been trying to achieve many things and it was just too much to do at the same time. Eve Online has hurt for it.

Now we're really focused on product value for Eve and we're following through on those statements with the winter expansion and the roadmap ahead, which we will go into more detail with at Fanfest. Already some things will have happened prior to that, and that's really the message. CCP is now back in business when it comes to making an awesome - in the classical sense - Eve Online.

Eurogamer: So you're back in the spaceship business?

Hilmar Pétursson: We are back in the spaceship business.

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